published Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Quake hits region of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, in a red helmet, looks at an impervious wall made of steel pipe sheet pile installed along the coast during his inspection tour to the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, in a red helmet, looks at an impervious wall made of steel pipe sheet pile installed along the coast during his inspection tour to the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

DENVER — A 5.3-magnitude earthquake has hit the Japanese prefecture that is home to the nuclear power plant crippled in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake struck early Friday at a depth of about 13 miles (22 kilometers) under Fukushima Prefecture and about 110 miles northeast of Tokyo.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue an alert.

The Japanese news agency Kyodo News reported that the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., observed no abnormality in radiation or equipment after the quake.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday ordered TEPCO to scrap all six reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant and concentrate on tackling pressing issues like leaks of radioactive water.

The 2011 disaster caused three reactors to melt and damaged a fuel cooling pool at another. Officials have acknowledged that radiation-contaminated groundwater has been seeping into the Pacific Ocean since soon after the meltdowns.

The region lies on the "Ring of Fire" — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones that stretches around the Pacific Rim. About 90 percent of the world's quakes occur in the region.

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